the game within the game

pokemon baseball

illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Let me tell you cats something real quick. The last time I was at a baseball game was when the Tigers were in Boston earlier this season (more on that shortly, when I have a hot second to catch my breath and upload the rest of these freakin’ cartoons). There was a fair amount of baseball and a lot of heat and a Bostonian gentleman who recognized my 2009 All Star Game jersey in the security line out front, expressed surprise at seeing it, then saw that it was a BRANDON INGE jersey and said, “Inge… Brandon, right? You don’t see a lot of those!” No sir. No, sir, you do not, but I very much appreciate your recall of short white third basemen refugees from the catcher’s mitt.

I also almost (literally) ran into Al Avila in the Fenway Park concourse, which was cool, but Mr. Avila, please do not stop on the ramp and block the way. C’mon now.

But I’m not cartoon-ically ready to talk about all that just yet. What I want to talk about is the fact that THERE WAS SO MUCH POKEMON GO.

Seriously. There were people playing Pokemon Go all over the park. Outside the park, in the concourse, in the aisles, in their seats. People were coming down the stairs playing Pokemon Go while looking over the shoulders of people in grandstand seating playing Pokemon Go, so that they could confirm that that other person was in fact playing Pokemon Go, and maybe to see what creature that person was pursuing (??), or whether they were battling for a ‘gym’ (????) or doing whatever one does at a ‘Pokestop’ (????????).

There were definitely more people playing Pokemon Go in Fenway Park than there were people scoring the game on paper scorecards.

pidgey at the park

Image obtained via Pokemon-Go-capable seatmate.

I don’t even have Pokemon Go on my phone (I couldn’t download it even if I wanted to; my phone is too old and is not supported by newer apps). But since my seatmate does, I was privy to the madness and the wonder of Pokemon at the Park. There was so much happening! There were small creatures in the stadium, not entirely unlike mantises! The gym was constantly changing hands! People had something to do between innings that did not involve spilling extremely expensive beer on each other! Of course people were also staring at their phones during the actual gameplay, sometimes, and missing out on some pretty decent baseball so that they could superimpose digital monsters on the very real Green Monster….

but…

I cannot remember ever seeing anything like this, where so many people were interested not just in the game that was happening on the field, but in playing a separate game in the stands, one that was in some ways its own thing, but in other ways was dependent on the particularities of Fenway Park (moving around to catch different Pokemon; the intensity of activity that was a direct result of the number of people in the park at one time; the pleasure of seeing your Pokemon not just on a digital landscape, but actually putting its butt in Justin Verlander’s face; etc.). I know that it is cool to poop all over the entire phone-tethered existence of which Pokemon Go is a part, but this seemed more fun and communally entertaining than anything else. These folks were delighted to see Pokemon at the baseball game, more so than they would have been to see Pokemon at the local CVS. That was cool and I have to say that I, a non-participant, did enjoy seeing it.

The focus on phones also prevented a few more people from doing the wave. Good outcomes all ’round, I say.

2 responses to “the game within the game

  1. While we were waiting for post-game fireworks at the Rangers/Tigers game a few weeks ago (in Texas), my husband and I amused ourselves (a little too much, probably) by making it look like giant Pokemon were terrorizing tiny people down on the field. It was awesome.

  2. Please keep the posts coming. The Tigers need all of the help they can get.

    I remain hopeful, though it has not been easy this season.

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